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One of the questions that readers often ask writers is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

There are a couple of ways to reply to this, depending on your writer. In general, answers range from Harlan Ellison’s now-classic, “I get my ideas from a post office box in Schenectady,” to the more factual, and most often disbelieved, “Ideas are easy,” to the in-your-face, “Do you mean to say that you don’t have ideas? For God’s sake, tell me how to make them stop!”

Since we’ve been working in the same fictional universe for quite a number of books now, we’re also pretty often asked, “What if you run out of stories?” Or, paraphrasing, “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll run out of ideas?”

The answer to that is, well. . .we’re not going to run out of stories, or ideas for stories. We promise.

And for evidence, there’s this book, the one you’re holding in your hand, right now.

A brief introduction may be in order before we go any further.

We’re Sharon Lee and Steve Miller and, as of the date of this letter to the future, we’ve written sixteen novels set in a space opera universe called collectively, the Liaden Universe®. By the time you read this introduction, we’ll have turned in the seventeenth novel in that universe, and may have contracts to write a couple of more.

Space operas, for those to whom that may be a new term, are stories of romance and adventure in an imaginary future. Because opera, and romance, and adventure are activities in which people indulge, space opera—at least, space opera as it’s practiced in the Liaden Universe®—is about people. Character-driven fiction, that’s what we write.

The fact that our fiction is primarily about people who find themselves in strange or exciting circumstances makes us even more certain that we won’t run out of either ideas or stories.

Because people, in addition to being endlessly fascinating, are peerless in their ability to surprise.

That’s why we write novels about people.

Now, novels . . . novels don’t happen in a vacuum. Characters in novels come from someplace, they’re going someplace. In simplest terms, they’re coming from their past and they’re going to their future. That means, among other things, and just like you and me, that they’ve existed before the story starts, and will continue to exist after the story stops. They’ll have done things and known people.

Some of the things they’ve done are outside the scope of the novel under construction . . .

. . . and some of the people they’ve known, or know, have stories that are as much worth telling as . . . anyone else’s story, really.

And that’s what’s in this book—the other stories, that happened before, or after, or to someone else.

You don’t have to have read a Liaden Universe® novel to understand these stories. Several first appeared in venues, such as Absolute Magnitude, 3SF, and A Distant Soil, where the core audience had never, arguably, heard of our novels. Which reminds us to say that people figure into our writing in another, and very important way, and you’ve already guessed what we’re talking about—readers.

For a number of years—from 1995 to 2011—we wrote and/or collected one long or two (rarely three) mid-length stories into booklets called chapbooks. These chapbooks were titled Adventures in the Liaden Universe®, and we produced seventeen of them, under the imprint of SRM Publisher, Ltd. They were a specialty item available from us, and from two or three specialty science fiction bookstores.

Baen Books recently asked if the short stories didn’t deserve a wider distribution. We agreed that they did, and so here you are—a constellation of the shorter works from the Liaden Universe®, the first of two and likely more, since we haven’t stopped writing short stories, and don’t expect to run out of ideas any time soon.

The stories in this volume appeared in Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Volumes 1-8, and in the chapbook entitled Calamity’s Child—seventeen stories in all.

We hope you enjoy them.

Thank you for reading.

—Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Waterville Maine

April 2012

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